The design and construction of CARMENES has been presented at previous SPIE conferences. It is a next-generation radial-velocity instrument at the 3.5m telescope of the Calar Alto Observatory, which was built by a consortium of eleven Spanish and German institutions. CARMENES consists of two separate échelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.71μm at a spec-tral resolution of R < 80,000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. CARMENES saw “First Light” on Nov 9, 2015.
During the commissioning and initial operation phases, we established basic performance data such as throughput and spectral resolution. We found that our hollow-cathode lamps are suitable for precise wavelength calibration, but their spectra contain a number of lines of neon or argon that are so bright that the lamps cannot be used in simultaneous exposures with stars. We have therefore adopted a calibration procedure that uses simultaneous star / Fabry Pérot etalon exposures in combination with a cross-calibration between the etalons and hollow-cathode lamps during daytime. With this strategy it has been possible to achieve 1-2 m/s precision in the visible and 5-10 m/s precision in the near-IR; further improvements are expected from ongoing work on temperature control, calibration procedures and data reduction. Comparing the RV precision achieved in different wavelength bands, we find a “sweet spot” between 0.7 and 0.8μm, where deep TiO bands provide rich RV information in mid-M dwarfs. This is in contrast to our pre-survey models, which predicted comparatively better performance in the near-IR around 1μm, and explains in part why our near-IR RVs do not reach the same precision level as those taken with the visible spectrograph.
We are now conducting a large survey of 340 nearby M dwarfs (with an average distance of only 12pc), with the goal of finding terrestrial planets in their habitable zones. We have detected the signatures of several previously known or suspected planets and also discovered several new planets. We find that the radial velocity periodograms of many M dwarfs show several significant peaks. The development of robust methods to distinguish planet signatures from activity-induced radial velocity jitter is therefore among our priorities.
Due to its large wavelength coverage, the CARMENES survey is generating a unique data set for studies of M star atmospheres, rotation, and activity. The spectra cover important diagnostic lines for activity (H alpha, Na I D1 and D2, and the Ca II infrared triplet), as well as FeH lines, from which the magnetic field can be inferred. Correlating the time series of these features with each other, and with wavelength-dependent radial velocities, provides excellent handles for the discrimination between planetary companions and stellar radial velocity jitter. These data are also generating new insight into the physical properties of M dwarf atmospheres, and the impact of activity and flares on the habitability of M star planets.
We have developed a generic physical modeling scheme for high resolution spectroscopy based on simple optical principles. This model predicts the position of centroids for a given set of spectral features with high accuracy. It considers off-plane grating equations and rotations of the different optical elements in order to properly account for tilts in the spectral lines and order curvature. In this way any astronomical spectrograph can be modeled and controlled without the need of commercial ray tracing software. The computations are based on direct ray tracing applying exact corrections to certain surfaces types. This allows us to compute the position on the detector of any spectral feature with high reliability. The parameters of this model, which describe the physical properties of the spectrograph, are continuously optimized to ensure the best possible fit to the observed spectral line positions. We present the physical modeling of CARMENES as a case study. We show that our results are in agreement with commercial ray tracing software. The model prediction matches the observations at a pixel size level, providing an efficient tool in the design, construction and data reduction of high resolution spectrographs.
The Waltz Spectrograph is a fiber-fed high-resolution échelle spectrograph for the 72 cm Waltz Telescope at the Landessternwarte, Heidelberg. It uses a 31.6 lines/mm 63.5° blaze angle échelle grating in white-pupil configuration, providing a spectral resolving power of R ~ 65,000 covering the spectral range between 450-800nm in one CCD exposure. A prism is used for cross-dispersion of échelle orders. The spectrum is focused by a commercial apochromat onto a 2k×2k CCD detector with 13.5μm per pixel. An exposure meter will be used to obtain precise photon-weighted midpoints of observations, which will be used in the computation of the barycentric corrections of measured radial velocities. A stabilized, newly designed iodine cell is employed for measuring radial velocities with high precision. Our goal is to reach a radial velocity precision of better than 5 m/s, providing an instrument with sufficient precision and sensitivity for the discovery of giant exoplanets. Here we describe the design of the Waltz spectrograph and early on-sky results.
In this work we describe the robotization and upgrade of the ESO 1m telescope located at La Silla Observatory. The ESO 1m telescope was the first telescope installed in La Silla, in 1966. It now hosts as a main instrument the FIber Dual EchellE Optical Spectrograph (FIDEOS), a high resolution spectrograph designed for precise Radial Velocity (RV) measurements on bright stars. In order to meet this project's requirements, the Telescope Control System (TCS) and some of its mechanical peripherals needed to be upgraded. The TCS was also upgraded into a modern and robust software running on a group of single board computers interacting together as a network with the CoolObs TCS developed by ObsTech. One of the particularities of the CoolObs TCS is that it allows to fuse the input signals of 2 encoders per axis in order to achieve high precision and resolution of the tracking with moderate cost encoders. One encoder is installed on axis at the telescope and the other on axis at the motor. The TCS was also integrated with the FIDEOS instrument system so that all the system can be controlled through the same remote user interface. Our modern TCS unit allows the user to run observations remotely through a secured internet web interface, minimizing the need of an on-site observer and opening a new age in robotic astronomy for the ESO 1m telescope.
FIDEOS (FIbre Dual Echelle Optical Spectrograph) is a fibre-fed bench-mounted high-resolution echelle spec- trograph for the 1-m telescope at ESO in La Silla, Chile. It is based on a 44.41 lines/mm 70° blaze angle
echelle grating in quasi-Littrow mode, providing spectral resolution of R ~ 42 000, covering the spectral range from 400 nm to 680 nm. The detector is a 2k×2k CCD with 15 μm pixels. The spectrograph will be fed by two 50
µm core diameter fibres for the astronomical object and the simultaneous calibration lamp, respectively. Alter- natively, an iodine cell will be mounted on the telescope-spectrograph interface, providing a secondary spectral calibration source. In addition, the instrument will be mounted on a fixed optical-bench without movable parts rather than the CCD shutter and its enclosure will be thermally controlled to ensure opto-mechanical stability. Since the FIDEOS will deliver high resolution and spectral stability, it will be optimized for precision radial velocities.